Make Way for Pollinators
Steve Poppe, Horticulture Scientist
If you’ve been on the City of Morris bike path in the last several months, you may have noticed a significant change in the landscape, especially between the Pomme de Terre Overlook and the Pomme de Terre Park. Last fall, we removed all non-native vegetation as the first step in our prairie restoration and pollinator education project.
The West Central Research and Outreach Center received funding to restore 17 acres of native prairie for pollinators and to construct wayside shelters and kiosks along an existing trail to provide information to visitors on the importance of pollinators and native prairie ecosystems. Funding for this project was provided by the Minnesota Environment and Natural Resources Trust Fund as recommended by the Legislative-Citizen Commission on Minnesota Resources (LCCMR). The Trust Fund is a permanent fund constitutionally established by the citizens of Minnesota to assist in the protection, conservation, preservation, and enhancement of the state’s air, water, land, fish, wildlife, and other natural resources. Currently, 40% of net Minnesota State Lottery proceeds are dedicated to growing the Trust Fund and ensuring future benefits for Minnesota’s environment and natural resources.
Jim Riley and Sons Inc., an excavation company from Morris, MN was hired and completed removal of all non-native vegetation from the project area in mid-November 2018. They removed about 200 non-native volunteer trees and shrubs on the project site, ranging in height from 8 ft to 60 ft. Since this particular piece of ground has never been farmed, it required heavy-duty equipment and professional expertise to restore the project area for a future successful native planting. Besides the large backhoe to take down and load trees, a skid loader was used to move branches and shrubs, a dump truck to transport vegetation to disposal sites, and a pay loader to pile trees and clean the site area. In order to minimize soil disturbance, work was completed when the ground is frozen. This activity was the first step in restoring the native prairie habitat and enhancing the ecosystem for beneficial pollinators and native species of plants and animals to thrive.
Visitors to the City of Morris bike trail this summer should be able to see this drastic change to renovation site. The removal of trees and unwanted shrubs left behind a somewhat bland and barren-looking landscape. Our next step is to apply a selective use of herbicides to eradicate unwanted vegetation that would hinder development of native plant growth.
The planting of natives will be handled by Prairie Restorations, Inc. of Princeton, MN. An aggressive and thorough site preparation strategy is important in order to eradicate/control undesirable species in this project area. Prairie Restorations has developed an extensive site preparation, maintenance and seeding plan to establish a high quality native prairie landscape in three years. We anticipate that seeding of native plants will begin late in 2020 or early in 2021.
Our collaborator, Kristin Lamberty, University of Minnesota Computer Science Faculty and two of her students are working on the educational outreach program related to the grant. They started the design and implementation of a way to reach out to the public through posting physical links to digital resources in our community. This has not been fully implemented yet, but is nearing readiness for deployment. The plan is to place posters and cards with information about the research project and also things that might prompt people to want to find out more about pollinators. They will place these physical links (z-links, URLs, or QR codes) on cards and posters in the community. When someone visits a page, they will be provided with pollinator information with opportunities to click to find out more.